http://almanacnews.com/print/story/print/2012/10/31/letter-challenge-for-council-to-take-citizen-survey


Almanac

Viewpoint - October 31, 2012

Letter: Challenge for council to take citizen survey

Whoever is elected to the Atherton City Council, now is the time for our five elected representatives to set a new direction and standard of governance. We no longer want or can afford 3-2 votes and a divided and an uncivil council.

Our five elected representatives should seek unanimity on every issue that comes before them and demand unanimity on the important issues.

A superb place to start would be for the council to unanimously vote to participate in the National Citizen Survey, which has been widely tested in communities around the nation. The survey is a low-cost citizen survey service for local governments. Tested, flexible, affordable, and efficient, the NCS would allow Atherton to survey citizen opinion for program planning, budgeting, goal-setting and performance measurement.

The council would select from a set of standard questions to assess citizen opinion about basic services and community life. Additional customized questions allow the council to tailor the survey to our unique needs.

Our elected officials can use the results to set spending priorities. The town manager can use the results to measure progress and chart future steps. Staff can use the results to improve service delivery.

The survey program includes three mailings to 1,200 randomly selected households, which include the pre-survey postcard and two mailings of the survey instrument. A margin of error (95 percent confidence interval) of no more than plus or minus five percentage points around any percent.

I am so convinced of the need for a new approach to our town governance that I will personally pay for the cost of participation in the National Citizens' Survey provided such participation is approved unanimously by our new City Council.

Peter Carpenter Larch Drive, Atherton

Comments

Posted by Thanks but disagree, a resident of Atherton: other
on Oct 30, 2012 at 9:29 pm

Mr. Carpeneter should be commended for his generous offer.

However, unanimity has no place in politics, which by nature involves dissent and debate.

True enough, in a perfect world, we can use this disagreement to enhance our own points of view and not engage in any personally destructive behavior.

But I'd take the petty and vindictive behavior that unfortunately usually comes along eith disagreement any day over unanimity. That is, unless one expects only resolutions supporting mom and apple pie.

For this reason, unanimity is even more deadly for the "important" issues.


Posted by registered user, Peter Carpenter, a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 1, 2012 at 5:13 am

"unanimity is even more deadly for the "important" issues."

In my nine years as a Director of the MPFPD we NEVER decided an important issue on a split vote. This was accomplished by working very hard to understand each other's perspectives and then finding the best solution for the citizens whom we served.